Lorsch Gospel, produced during the Carolingian era
Religion plays a central role in the lives of my early medieval characters, but portraying Christianity in the days of Charlemagne takes more than having prayers in Latin. Here are a five aspects of Christianity in this period that might surprise you.
Midwives could baptize newborns . . . → Read More: Five Surprising Facts about Christianity in the Dark Ages, by Kim Rendfeld
This 14th century image by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci depicts the newborn Virgin Mary about to be bathed.
When I decided to write fiction set in the days of Charlemagne, I knew very little about the Middle Ages but was certain of one thing: medieval people didn’t bathe. I recall being told by teachers . . . → Read More: Yes, People in the Dark Ages Bathed, by Kim Rendfeld
I was recently talking to a friend about our mutual love of Pez… I’ve got a drawer full of Pez, mostly unopened with the two packs of little sugar tablets that will never expire… I loved Pez as a kid, and my mom would often bring home one that she thought I’d like. I . . . → Read More: Pez, The Poor Man’s Rose, by Steve Stav
From the Desk of: Knute Rimkus
Early medieval women were far from passive damsels waiting for a knight to rescue them.
Of course, this time period is hardly an ideal time for women: childbirth so risky expectant mothers were urged to confess their sins before they went into labor, fathers choosing whom a girl would marry, age 13 considered marriageable, . . . → Read More: Medieval Misconception: All Women Were Chattel, by Kim Rendfeld
First published Sept. 8, 2014, on Spann of Time http://www.susanspann.com
To prove her innocence of adultery, Kunigunde, wife of Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich II, walked over red-hot ploughshares (circa 1010, bas-relief from Bamberg Cathedral).
Who’s Guilty? God Knows. By Kim Rendfeld
Delve into the justice system of early medieval Francia and . . . → Read More: Who’s Guilty? God Knows. By Kim Rendfeld
How can you not feel optimistic? In a world where unicycle-riding kilt-wearing Darth Vaders can belch flames from their bagpipes, there’s just no room for cynicism.
– Randy Rendfeld
“As a novelist, I don’t judge the marriage traditions of another society. My responsibility is to accurately depict my characters’ reality and their reactions to it. But examining customs in another time teaches us that the definition of marriage–who is eligible, who gets to decide, why one gets married–has indeed changed.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kim . . . → Read More: Traditional Marriage: Eighth Century Frankish Style
Biltmore Front View
If you like HGTV or just can’t get enough of seeing how other people live, the Biltmore Estate is an essential place to include in your lifetime travels. Completed in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II near Asheville NC, it has 250 rooms and 178,926 square feet of floor space. It . . . → Read More: The Biggest House in America, by Chuck Strom
This summer, my brother Roger and I spent six hours in Charleston, SC as part of a two-week vacation on the East Coast. Having scheduled visits to the Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg and Antietam, it seemed right to squeeze in a tour of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor where the conflict . . . → Read More: Six Hours In Charleston, by Chuck Strom
A few weeks ago I happened to be in Palm Springs, CA with a couple of spare hours, so I paid Frank Sinatra a visit. For those unfamiliar with his life, he made Palm Springs his permanent home in the 1950s, so far as it was possible for someone whose career required a nomadic . . . → Read More: A Visit With Frank, by Chuck Strom
Having walked past various coin-op kiddie rides in the neighborhood, I sometimes wonder if these contraptions provide a child’s first experience of being underwhelmed. Toddlers eagerly climb atop the plastic horses as their exhausted parents fish out the coins and drop them into the slot. Then, as soon as the canned music starts and . . . → Read More: Coin-Op Kiddie Rides, by Jacob Slichter
I watched the Sochi Opening Ceremony. Kyrgyzstan had a cool flag, and I learned that Nepal has the world’s only nonrectangular flag. I was surprised that Iceland had only five athletes. Mexico had one out of a population of 118 million. By contrast, Sweden had 111 out of a population of less than 10 . . . → Read More: Sochi and the Heroes of Telemark, by Mark Erickson
A treestone at Bohemian National Cemetery.
During one furlough day I had to break from my massive deck project to rest my bones from all the bending, lifting, and stooping. I choose to do something I had never done in my 25 years of living in Chicago: I toured the Bohemian National Cemetery located . . . → Read More: Touring Chicago’s Bohemian National Cemetery, by Mark Erickson
Here’s an inspired comic video from Norwegian duo Ylvis:
Many years ago at the EMP Pop Conference I heard a scholar and avant-garde musician named Ned Sublette deliver perhaps the greatest impromptu speaking performance I’ve ever experienced in that setting, or possibly anywhere at all! He was then about to publish his landmark study of the Cuban influence on global music, and . . . → Read More: Ned Sublette and His Dazzling Array of Talents, By Tom Kipp